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Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center
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Sgt. Phong Khai Che, food serveice specialist, Headquarters Battalion, stares at a player across the table during the Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament hosted by the Single Marine Program at The 5th Street Zone, March 28, 2014. Along with newcomers, seasoned veterans saw the entertainment in the event, even with years of experience in card games.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Charles Santamaria

SMP hosts free poker tournament at The Zone

28 Mar 2014 | Cpl. Charles Santamria Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

A man sits at a table seating six and feels the tension in the air. The dealer stands up and passes two cards to each player as they exchange glances from their seats. The young man is confident in his ability and without a doubt looks at his cards and places his bet. As the dealer begins flipping the five community cards the players begin reading each other’s movements, looking for the slightest gesture as a sign to a bluff. The man knows that the value of the cards he’s been dealt does not matter; because it’s not the game he is trying to play, it’s the players.

Pvt. Alexander Sexauer, student, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, took the experience he gained from that moment and applied it during the Single Marine Program’s free Texas Hold ’em Poker Tournament at The 5th Street Zone, March 28, 2014. The tournament is held on a monthly basis and saw the participation of 41 service members this time around.

“A lot of Marines ask for these tournaments to happen,” said Darryl Elliot Jr., poker tournament coordinator, Single Marine Program. The poker tournaments started as a quarterly event but because of the growing participation and high demand, it became monthly. It’s great to see Marines having fun playing here, and most importantly, it’s all free.”

The event did not require a fee of any kind and service members of all skill levels were able to participate. Not only newcomers, but seasoned veterans saw the entertainment in the event.

“It’s been about 15 years since I began playing card games like poker,” Sexauer said. “I began watching on television from a very young age and I had a ‘board game family’ so I played a lot of card games in general. The first thing that actually attracted me to poker was the chips and the rest is history.”

No matter how the players learned poker or decided to participate in the poker tournament, the challenge of the game became evident as players dropped one-by-one. Once players lost all of their chips, they had to leave the table and could no longer play for the night.

“I play the player, not the cards. A lot of the challenge and joy I find in poker is the feeling of not knowing what’s on the other person’s mind,” Sexauer said. “Knowing how to read someone is so important because you never know what cards the other player has or if they are just trying to trick you into believing they have a better hand.”

Tournament coordinators welcomed all active-duty service members to learn and play the game of Texas Hold ’em at The Zone for friendly competition and a good time.

“We just want these tournaments to be more frequent for more people to participate,” Elliot said. “Knowing the Marines can come here and play before going out and spending real money is also reassuring. We just want to welcome service members to The Zone and show them how much we have to offer them.”

Sgt. John Krumsiek, platoon sergeant, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 7th Marine Regiment, was the overall winner of the event and will defend his title at next month’s tournament.

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms